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Lord Jesus preached the message of peace.

The police caught the thief red-handed.

Rabindranath wrote Gitanjali.

I spoke to him yesterday.

Did you visit your grandma?

SENTENCE TYPE                STRUCTURE                 EXAMPLE
PositiveSubject + V2 + Object I liked ice-cream.
InterrogativeDid + Subject + V1 + Object?Did I like ice-cream?
NegativeSubject + did not + V1 + Object I did not like ice-cream.

Situational Use:

  1. To express a habitual actions of the past (always, never, often, seldom, generally, usually are used in these sentences)   – He generally came here everyday.
  2. To express an event/ actions completed in the past- I bought some apples yesterday.
  3. To express an action going on the time stated– While Krishna played the flute, Radha danced.
  4. Narrating events in the past – Once there lived a beautiful princess.
  5. For short but quickly finished events – I spent my childhood in India.
  6. For State verbs in the Past – Napoleon became the King.
  7. For second conditionals – If he worked hard, he could pass.
  8. For wishes – I wish I knew.
  9. For recommendations – It is time we went home.


  1. Story Telling – One fine day the king decided to go for a hunt.
  2. Narrating past events – When I was two, I was kidnapped.


I was painting a basket.

She was looking ill.

They were watching T.V. all the time.

They were talking loudly.

The students were not listening to the teacher.

You were watching TV at that time.

SENTENCE TYPE                STRUCTURE                 EXAMPLE
PositiveSubject + was/ were + V4(-ing form of verb) + Object I was eating ice-cream.
InterrogativeWas/ were + Subject + V4 + Object?Was I eating ice-cream?
NegativeSubject + was/ were + not + V4 + Object I was not eating ice-cream.

Situational Use:

  1. To express an action going in the past. – He was playing piano.
  2. To express repeated or habitual action in the past  – He was always bullying others.
  3. To indicate two simultaneous actions. –  He was cooking while she was reading.
  4. To indicate acts of incompletion – I was painting my house this morning.
  5. To indicate background in the past – I was working as an intern when I met him.
  6. To indicate distancing /less definite things–I was wondering when the economy will revive.
  7. To indicate gradual development of events – He was getting bored.

( when a verb ends with ‘e’ we remove ‘e’ and add ‘ing’. – come – coming:

when a verb ends with ‘ie’ we remove ‘ie’ and add ‘y’. – tie – tying:

when a verb ends with a consonant except ‘r’, w, y’  with a vowel before it we add the consonant twice. – cut – cutting)


The train had left before we had reached the station.

As soon as he had finished his speech, the people cheered.

The car had crashed by the time the driver realised that it was skidding.

He had broken his pencil before the exam ended.

I had lived there for ten years before moving to this town.

I had locked the door before I left the room.

I had trusted him before he cheated me.

I had reached home before the rain started.

Where had he been at that time?

He had opened the window before going to sleep.

I wish I had accepted the offer.

I told her that I had finished.

SENTENCE TYPE                STRUCTURE                 EXAMPLE
PositiveSubject + had + V3(past participle) + Object I had eaten ice-cream.
InterrogativeHad + Subject + V3 + Object? Had I eaten ice-cream?
NegativeSubject + had + V3 + Object I had not eaten ice-cream.

Situational Use:

  1. To express an action that has been completed before another action began. – The thief had fled before the police arrived.
  2. To express an unfulfilled wish in the past. – I wish you had told me the truth.
  3. To express things that happened before thinking or saying – He thought that I had left.
  4. In sentences with ‘after’, ‘when’, ‘as soon as’, ‘ no sooner than’ – No sooner had the teacher left than the boys began shouting.


I had been writing for two hours by then.

She had been visiting her for five months when we met.

She had been waiting for him for an hour when he came in.

They had been living here for six years by then.

She had been working on that novel for about eight years.

SENTENCE TYPE                STRUCTURE                 EXAMPLE
PositiveSubject +had+ been + V4(-ing form of verb) + ObjI had been running for an hour by then.
InterrogativeHad + Subject+ been + V4 + Object?Had I been running for an hour by then?
NegativeSubject + had+ not +been+ V4 + ObjectI had not been running for an hour by then.

Situational use

  1. To express the duration of action upto a certain time in the past – Everything had been going according to our plan.
  2. For focussing on the ongoing action – I had been reading in the garden.
  3. For expressing continuations from the past – At that time we had been living there for about a year.
  4. For expressing actions which are incomplete – I had been watching a lot of movies when I got that idea.

The Past time is expressed in six different ways according to its need.

  1. Simple Past  – I wrote an essay.
  2. Past Continuous – I was writing an essay.
  3. Past Perfect  – I had written an essay.
  4. Past Perfect Continuous – I had been writing an essay.
  5. Present Perfect – He has written a novel.
  6. Present Perfect Continuous – You have been crying.

15 thoughts on “PAST TENSE

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